As recently reported in the media the electorate are in a state of confusion with the National Council (NC) elections. And perhaps they are not alone, the contestants or the NC aspirants themselves seem to be confused over the inconsistency of the election notifications.
The candidature of Kunzang Dorji from Bongo Gewog under Chukha Dzongkhag had to be cancelled since he could not present himself during the Zomdu on 18 March.
“I was requested by the people to stand from the Gewog but when I knew about Zomdu it was in the eleventh hour,” he said. Therefore he lost the opportunity to stand for the nomination since getting the entire clearance certificate was not possible for him.
He added that the Zomdu took place on Monday and he found out only on Friday (15 March) which was over the weekends.
“My only question is, when the filing of nomination papers should be done latest by 31 March then why did the Dzongkhag Election Officer ask for the documents,” he added.
However the Chukha Dzongkhag Election officer Dawa said that Kunzang Dorji should present himself during the Zomdu as people should vote on a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ basis.
“Regarding the Election, the notification is circulated and the Zomdu scheduled for all the gewogs is passed through the local government,” he said. In addition, he said under Chukha Dzongkhag they have to complete all the Zomdus within three weeks for 12 different gewogs including Thromdes.
“Therefore postponing the Zomdu for one gewog will create lots of inconveniences later,” he added.
As per the notification from the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) some of the required certificates are tax clearance certificate, audit clearance certificate, asset declaration and related certificates.
Since Kunzang could not arrange the required documents he failed to attend the Zomdu in person. Therefore people in the Bongo gewog had to sign stating that there is no candidate from their gewog.
He added that ECB didn’t notify him about the Zomdus and also the public were completely unaware of Zomdu and its purpose.
“The confusion is the ECB’s notification of 31 March as the final date for filing nomination and in some places Zomdus have already taken place, while in Bongo it was on 18 March and they stopped the nomination some 10 days before,” he said.
Meanwhile some gewogs had their National Council nominees despite non-submission of all the certificates.
For this the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said that in some places, a person may have been given time to produce a few documents but before the last date of filing the nomination, as per a written undertaking taken by the officers at their discretion sometimes.
“Every rules and regulations should be followed by every citizen but why is there inconsistency in following it. There is no level playing field,” said Kunzang Dorji.
He is a graduate with MSc degree from the University of Oxford in UK. He resigned from civil service to participate in Bhutan’s first parliamentary elections in 2008 as a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate from Bongo-Chapcha Constituency.
While discussing this issue with the ECB commissioner, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi said “I was approached by him saying that he didn’t have his papers so I advised him to meet the local election office to discuss on it.”